Krampus: The Reckoning Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Uncork'd Entertainment
Directed by Robert Conway
Written by Robert Conway and Owen Conway
2015, 90 minutes
DVD released on 3rd November 2015 (USA)
Monica Engesser as Dr. Rachel Stewart
Amelia Haberman as Zoe Weaver
James Ray as Detective Miles O'Connor
Kevin Tye as Dr. Tom Jennings
Typical. You wait ages for one, and then four come along at once. First A Christmas Horror Story, then Krampus and now, the too-soon nadir, The Reckoning (the less said about Christmas Devil the better). If Krampus films are like buses, then The Reckoning is very much the short bus. Don't be suckered in by curiosity or how much you enjoyed those other Krampus tales this season – it may have come late in the year, but this is one of 2015's very worst.
The low budget means that glimpses of Krampus are, by necessity, fleeting. That's fine in theory – it's generally a good rule of thumb for horror films to be sparing and suggestive with their monsters anyway – but here it means we get to spend most of our time with colossal asshole Zoe, the child apparently responsible for summoning Krampus and setting him upon her enemies. I came for a Krampus movie and was instead suckered into a no-budget nightmare about a Carrie-esque prick and her imaginary CGI friend.
Acting is a dodgy prospect in no-budget horror movies at the best of times, so it's confounding that writer, director and producer Robert Conway should choose to put so much trust in a young cast – most notably its ostensible villain, Zoe. Without wanting to be excessively harsh, young Amelia Haberman is an excessively bad actress, all flat line deliveries, glaring and stilted shouting. The film tries to give her a sympathetic edge by justifying her behaviour, but this just results in comically villainous behaviour from her victims. How else to explain the hospital worker with “terrabytes of child porn” (the over-dramatic delivery makes it sound funnier than it is. And yes, apparently there is a way of over-dramatising child porn) or the abusive stepmom chugging enormous glasses of wine while doing lines of coke and keeping Zoe's bedroom door padlocked from the outside.
All this is wrapped around a central mystery best described as Orphan meets the infamously terrible Doctor Who episode Fear Her. Haberman shouldn't feel too bad though – no-one puts in a good performance here, child or otherwise. Sure, hers is the worst, but Monica Engesser runs a close second, playing the dim-witted case worker who manages to stumble upon Zoe's Krampus konspiracy (the less said about her even dimmer son Lamaar (!) and brainless cop boyfriend the better). Not even Krampus himself can redeem matters. Bad CGI is acceptable given the low budget, but the Christmas demon doesn't look remotely festive, like a half-baked college student rendering of an Iron Maiden album cover. Not even a bit of tinsel. At least, unlike the rest of horrible characters and cast, he's barely in it.
People who ironically enjoy bad movies should have a field day with The Reckoning, being the sort of wrongheaded nonsense (you can tell poor Conway thought he was onto a winner here) that those who love The Room and Troll 2 always latch onto with their superior hipster mockery (although I did myself laugh at a child called Lamaar, every time). Everyone else, however, will rightly hate it. Should you find this lump of coal under your Christmas tree, be sure to throw it right back in Santa's damn Cola-swigging face.
Want to comment on this review? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.